Santa Claus parade rolls through Natchez

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 2010

NATCHEZ — Christmas Eve is always filled with suspense, but in Natchez, children also eagerly listened for police sirens Friday morning instead of sleigh bells.

Camped on the lawn at their great-grandparents’ house on Pecan Way, brothers Nathan and Shane Harris and cousin James Craft waited for Santa and his entourage.

Their grandmother, Billie McLeod, had grocery bags stuffed in her fleece-jacket pockets, ready to distribute when time came.

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“You will hear them before they get here,” McLeod said.

Billie and her husband Wayne have lived at there house on the Santa parade route for 34 years and they rarely miss the spectacle.

Billie said she suspected more families to drift outside when the parade got closer to their neighborhood in the Trees Subdivision.

But they like to stay outside and wait, if it is not too cold.

“They’re never exactly on time, and you don’t want to miss them,” Wayne said.

“I hear the sirens!” Nathan shouted.

“Santa’s coming!” he said.

Santa rolled by in the passenger seat of an old, light blue Rolls-Royce convertible, turning his big belly around to wave as long as he could to the boys on Pecan Way.

The candy started flying out windows of mostly SUVs, which were carrying men in suits each waving and smiling. And then the parade was gone as suddenly as it started.

Even though Santa and the caravan was out of sight, no one dared go back inside before collecting every Dum Dum, peppermint and roll of Sweeties.

“Now y’all got to get busy!” Billie said to her great grandchildren, who were all squatting and reaching to get every last piece.

One dad across the street used a garden rake to grab the goodies.

Nathan said he enjoys the parade so much that he cannot decide which part he likes best.

“Everything,” he said.

Wesleigh McLeod, the granddaughter of Billie and Wayne, said she remembers watching the parade from her grandparents’ house ever since she can remember.

Now that she has a son of her own, James, she is letting the tradition continue down the family line.